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Used Vauxhall Zafira review

A full used buyers guide on the Vauxhall Zafira covering the Zafira Mk2 (2005-2014)

People carriers don’t have a sexy image, but they often feature some of the neatest design touches as they have to be versatile. While the Zafira is far from cutting edge, it’s still a very usable family car. When we ran one on our fleet in 2006/2007, it was a big hit among our staff because it’s just so good at lugging stuff around. The car didn’t behave faultlessly, though; it never left us stranded, but a few glitches cropped up. Despite this, the Zafira is superb value, and for many families on a budget, that’s more important than anything else.

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Although Vauxhall wasn’t the first company to offer a compact MPV, it was the first to introduce one with an ingenious fold-flat third row of seats.

The first-generation Zafira was more flexible than any other car in its class. Rivals have now caught up, but the second take on this compact MPV still offers great family transport, plus extra refinement, safety features and improved build quality.

Affordable to buy, the Zafira is reliable, too, although it’s no class leader. If you’re keen to impress the neighbours, it’s probably not for you, but that’s part of the appeal – it doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard.

Models covered 

The Vauxhall Zafira MPV first arrived in 1999 and the original model was on sale for six years before being replaced the Mk2. It’s this second generation model, that was available between 2005 and 2014, that we’re focusing on in this review. 

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  • Vauxhall Zafira Mk2 (2005-2014) - Seven-seat MPV can now be yours used at a bargain price

History

The Zafira Mk2 appeared in 2005, with 1.6, 1.8, turbocharged 2.0 or 2.2-litre petrol engines, plus a 1.9-litre turbodiesel (CDTI) unit featuring 118bhp or 148bhp. All were available with either a manual or automatic box. The hot VXR debuted in late 2005 with a 237bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. And Vauxhall’s Easytronic semi-automatic transmission was introduced on the 1.8-litre model from January 2006.

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A high-spec Elite trim level was added to the line-up in June 2007, six months before the 1.6-litre petrol engine was boosted from 103bhp to 113bhp.

In March 2008, a refresh brought cosmetic changes, standard curtain airbags across the range, plus a new Exclusiv trim level. A year later, the 1.7-litre CDTI ecoflex arrived, with CO2 emissions of 139g/km. 

Prices

Three-year-old cars will be between £7,000 and £10,000 depending on specification, while a two-year-old Zafira will be in the £6,000 to £8,500 bracket.

Visit our sister site BuyaCar for the latest used Vauxhall Zafira prices and deals

Vauxhall Zafira Mk2 reviews 

Vauxhall Zafira in-depth reviewVauxhall Zafira reviewVauxhall Zafira SRi reviewVauxhall Zafira Elite reviewVauxhall Zafira VXR reviewVauxhall Zafira long-term test review

Which one should I buy?

Entry-level Zafiras are basic and best avoided; the trim hierarchy runs Expression, Life, Active, Club, Exclusiv, Design, SRi and Elite. Not all versions were offered with all engines, though.

The CDTI diesels are the pick of the bunch, even though they’re less reliable than the petrol alternatives. The petrol engines lack sparkle, but they’re all up to the job; the 1.6 is great value if you don’t mind the lack of power. All Zafiras come with electric front windows and Isofix in the middle row. Life adds air-con, while the Club is equipped with heated door mirrors.

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The Exclusiv adds ESP and alloy wheels, the Design gets powered rear windows and automatic wipers, while the Elite features climate and cruise control, plus leather trim. 

Alternatives Vauxhall Zafira Mk2

Renault invented the compact MPV with its Scenic; the third-generation model (from 2009) is a big advance over the Mk2 (built between 2003 and 2009), so go for one of these if you can.

If you value dependability above all else, consider a Toyota Verso; excellent practicality and build quality set this car apart. Ford’s S-MAX is the driver’s choice, but it’s almost as big as a full-size Galaxy MPV. The Volkswagen Touran is solidly built and flexible, although prices can be high and it’s conservative in every respect.

The Mazda 5 is also good to drive and flexible, but Mk1 cars (built between 2005 and 2010) can be surprisingly unreliable. 

What to look for:

Spare wheel

When fitted, the spare wheel sits underneath the boot floor, so it’s easily stolen. You can buy extra security, but make sure it’s there in the first place. 

Engine

The 1.9 CDTI diesel offers performance with economy, but it’s the least reliable engine. The 1.6 petrol is less punchy, but quick enough if you’re not in a hurry. 

Electrics

Some electrical items aren’t that robust, so make sure the interior lights all work, plus the wipers. The radio can switch itself on, then flatten the battery when the car is left.

Central locking

Check that the central locking works properly; the tailgate release can prove to be particularly temperamental, so make sure that it locks and unlocks reliably with the key.

Interior

The dashboard isn’t inspiring, but it’s clearly laid out. The first two rows of seats get decent head and legroom, while the third row is really for children only (although it does fold completely flat). The boot holds 140 litres with seven seats in use, increasing to 1,820 litres with rows two and three folded flat. 

Running costs

All Zafira Mk2s need maintenance every 12 months or 20,000 miles, with services alternating between minor and major, priced around £150 and £250 respectively. You can join the Vauxhall Service Club for free and save 15 per cent on a car that’s two to three years old; older Zafiras get a 25 per cent discount.

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Most engines have a cambelt and nearly all models need a replacement every six years or 100,000 miles. A new belt is £209 fitted. Every two years the brake fluid should be replaced (£30) and air-con recharged (£42). The coolant should be renewed every three years at £25. 

Recalls

There have been a number of recalls affecting the Zafira Mk2. The first was issued in November 2005, and concerned just 22 cars built up to that point. They were ordered with a factory-fitted towbar, but the securing bolts for the brackets weren’t tightened up enough.

A second recall came in May 2010 and affected Zafiras made between November 2009 and March 2010. Some were built with a faulty steering column which could work loose, leading to a loss of steering. 

Then the Zafira fires saga broke in 2015 when owners began reporting problems with the heating and ventilation system in the Zafira ‘B’ models, on sale from 2009 to 2014, causing the car to catch fire. In the first recall Vauxhall replaced the thermal fuse in affected cars, while also replacing the cabin pollen filter and checking for corrosion to the fan. A second rould of recalls was then issued in mid-2016 to fix any outstanding problems. The whole process cost General Motors £40m.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

Bearing in mind the Zafira’s age, it’ll come as no surprise that it slipped out of the Driver Power survey altogether in 2013 and hasn’t appeared again since. In 2012 it finished 47th thanks to decent reliability and excellent practicality, plus a good ride. Since then, rivals have eclipsed the Vauxhall.

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